Hello, and welcome to another Breath of Fresh Air!
Well, it's that time of year again ... the time when I have to force myself to open our Company's accounting software and begin the process of reconciling a year's worth of transactions.
Don't get me wrong though -- I do actually keep everything up to date on a daily basis using my own very simple little method of bookkeeping. But, despite the best of intentions, I always seem to end up leaving the BIG job of entering everything into the REAL program until the last minute. Or, as it is in this case, past the last minute.
It's not that I don't particularly want to do it; it's just that I really don't like the program. In fact, I never have. The only reason I use it at all is because that's what our Accountant uses and so it just keeps everyone happy ... well, almost everyone.
Strangely enough, a very good percentage of Australian businesses use exactly the same software. Personally, I don't see the attraction.
So I reached a compromise. Although this super-dooper program has all the whistles and bells that any accountant could ever dream of, I've chosen to just use the barest minimum of its resources. I don't use it for payroll or for our invoices or billing. I simply use it to reconcile the transactions with the bank statements and code everything so that our accountant will know how it all should be divided up.
Using it for just that purpose makes it all bearable. Even though the instruction manual is the size of a small city's telephone book, I try to avoid delving too deeply into its contents. More than a small scan of its pages is enough to make my eyes glaze over and start my head spinning.
And to think it's supposed to be user friendly! Not this "user"!
What makes it worse is that my friend, Fiona, is an absolute whiz with this particular program. She uses it for both their company and the church's bookwork. In fact, just last week she went to a seminar to learn how she could do even more with the rotten thing!
However, the hardest thing for me to get my brain around is that Fiona was originally trained as a dental assistant. I mean come on! I was the Executive Secretary! I was the one who blitzed Bookkeeping at College! Shouldn't I, therefore, be the one who's blazing the trail?
Oh the shame, the shame!
Unfortunately, Fiona often thinks that we're on the same wavelength when it comes to using this particular little "gem". Some Sunday mornings after church, she will begin regaling me with wonderful stories of her joyful adventures with her pet program. As she takes me on a journey through her week of payroll, job orders and billing, I find myself inwardly cringing and full of doubts as to my own abilities as our Company's secretary.
But usually, once back in the comfort and security of my little office, with my nice, simple little system in action, I'm able to sigh and realize that it's okay. After 16 years in business, we must be doing something right.
Then, every now and then, something will happen that throws me into an absolute spin ... and that's exactly what happened this week when I sat down to enter all last financial year's transactions into THAT program.
At first I didn't think it was going to be a big deal. There were just a few things that had changed with regard to our Company's finances since the previous financial year and so I really just wanted to check with Ken the Accountant, as to how I should code these new transactions.
Ken sent back a reply that explained everything to perfection ... provided you knew what he was talking about. He wanted me to use this code for that and that code for this, then move that amount to there and bring this amount to here, mark that as a debit and this as a credit, but that would need to be another debit when I moved it over to there and brought the other one back.
Confusing? You'd better believe it.
I did try to do what he said, but hit one road block after the other. For starters, I didn't even have the codes he was talking about in my list. And that was the easy stuff!
After five "high-priority" e-mails to Ken, I finally hit my breaking point and typed, "ARGH! Is nothing easy about this wretched thing!?! Help! Beam me up Scotty!"
Then, once I explained what I didn't understand, I added one more poignantly pathetic statement, "It's times like this that I feel unbelievably dumb!"
Ken's answer arrived first thing the next morning. He didn't try to explain anything else. Instead he just wrote, "Deb, send me the file via email. I will fix it."
I had that baby zipping through cyberspace faster than you can say "rotten accounting software". The sense of relief was enormous.
However, later that day my words to Ken came back to haunt me. Was I really dumb? Did I really think I was stupid? Was my level of intelligence really based on how well I could use an Accounting program? Did the fact that someone else knew it inside out and upside down, really give any indication that I was lacking in the "smarts department"?
I started to think about Ken and the fact that he is, after all, a qualified Accountant, so of course he understands what he's doing and saying. He isn't, however, a writer or communicator, so what made perfect sense to him didn't necessarily translate to the non-accountant at the other end of the e-mail.
Then Fiona came to mind. She isn't an accountant by any stretch, but her personality is such that she would take hold of that program and wring more out of it than most mere mortals would ever dream of doing. It's just the way she is.
Their ability, together with the thousands of other people who cope effortlessly with this program, doesn't automatically equate my inability with stupidity. It just means that this particular area is not my forte.
Now it's very true that we should "not be wise in our own eyes", but it's equally true that we shouldn't be dumb in our own eyes either. In the Message version of the Bible, we see a very clear warning from Jesus in Matthew, Chapter 5, verse 22, when He said, "Carelessly call a brother "idiot" and you just might find yourself hauled into court. Thoughtlessly yell "stupid" at a sister and you are on the brink of hellfire. The simple moral fact is that words kill."
If our Lord had such a thing to say about the way we bandy about the words "idiot" and "stupid" with our brothers and sisters, what must He think when we say it about ourselves?
The wonderful reality is that we all shine in different ways and at different times. Each of us has been created to excel in certain areas and it's no failing on our part if we can't get it right in everything.
Yes, it's true that God has chosen the foolish things of this world to shame the wise, but we need to remember that's really only "foolish" by the world's standards. The very fact that, as Christians, we're following Jesus, is evidence that we have already made the wisest decision any person could ever make. Even an Einstein couldn't do better than that!
As for my arch nemesis, that dreaded accounting program, I've decided to not let it get to me. Instead, I've decided to upgrade the version we have to the latest available and then go and do one of those courses that Fiona's been doing. Who knows, one day I may actually end up shining in this arena too.
Father God, Forgive us for the times when we speak carelessly to others and to ourselves. Lord, help us to recognise our inadequacies, but not in a negative way. Instead, may we always rejoice in the diversity of gifts, talents and natural abilities in Your people and learn to reach out, without shame or frustration, to those who can fill up what we lack. Instead of focusing on our inabilities and thinking ourselves stupid, Lord, may we instead take hold of our abilities and use them always for Your glory. All this we pray in our precious Saviour's Name. Amen.